The Eyes of Innocence

An interactive simulation inspired by the Auguries of Innocence – Poem by William Blake.  

Developed for Mobile VR.

Demo Video and Walkthrough

The emotion or theme that I was aiming to evoke was a feeling of ‘Isolation’ and a reconnection to nature.
The target audience for this project was people who are retired and have never experienced VR before.  

The below is a screen video played through a mobile device, assuming the user plays until the end.

The Process

My personal interest in romanticism and reading of William Blake gave me the inspiration to develop a project that would echo the words of a great wordsmith.

As an accomplished filmmaker (I consider 100 plus shorts to be worthy), I decided to use the poem 'The Augeries of Innocence' and film locations that evoked some of the feelings in the poem.

Poem Extract:

To see the world in a grain of sand,
And Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Design

Before taking my ideas into Unity and creating the experience, I drew my ideas out for each scene.  But before that I used several reference images online to inform my approach and I built up a mood board of sorts.  I also planned out my code and loop events.

Figure 1 - an extract of the drawing I made during the design phase

Figure 2 - some of the reference images I used to inform my design

Orbs/planets for edge of void space picture. 

My Initial thoughts on creating this were to trace it out in 3DS Max or see if there is a default tool in the package; colour it, export it, then take it into Tilt brush to trace the edges before animating the scale in a subtle fashion, thus giving the stars a ‘glimmer’ affect. 

Code/Loops

A – Interaction for player with UI on intro scene and navigate to the locations by using a
reticule pointer and clicking on the stars and orbs in the space. Navigation back to intro
scene through collection of jigsaw pieces.
B – Jigsaw updates to reveal more of the image when the user collects the pieces.
C – Fading to black, then back into void space (intro scene).
D – Birds flying around the sky in scene 5.

User Testing

For this experience I was able to test with an experienced VR user and a non experienced user.

User Test1

Name: Claudia
Age: 62
Experience with VR: very little
Employment: retired
Can you see a panel of some description? How big did you feel it was?
It was huge; all encompassing
1. How does the sense of scale make you feel, in each location
a. Hourglass
Like I am a grain of sand.
b. Birdcage
Felt strange to be under the bird.
c. Snowy landscape
If it was real I would feel isolated.
d. Green space
Beautiful. Nice and pleasant. Tranquil.
2. What elements of the experience could be improved/added, removed? What would
you change?
The star needs to be bigger inside the bird cage as it is too small.
3. How does this experience make you feel?
Interesting that the emotion of isolation and beauty came through. These were the two key
emotions I was going for.

Iterations I have made after testing with Claudia
Increase the size of the star inside the bird cage.
Adjust the volume and 3D effect of the music and poetry read.
I’ve also added stars to the scene and some flowers with tilt brush.

User Test2

1. Can you see a panel of some description? How big did you feel it was?
I think yes, it's like puzzle pieces at the beginning, where you are with all the stars. I thought
at first I had to click the puzzle pieces.
2. How big would you say that panel is, in terms of physical size?
If it's the one I'm thinking of, it seemed big but as I was in space scale is hard to measure.
3. How does the sense of scale make you feel, in each location
a. Hourglass
I can't remember the hourglass.
b. Birdcage
The birdcage was really cool, obviously I felt small and also knew how it felt to be in a cage.
c. Snowy landscape
The snowy landscape... was that the mountains? I enjoyed the view there, I think I felt
human sized.
d. Green space
I can't remember the green space now either but I'll have a go again at home tonight and let
you know.
4. What elements of the experience could be improved/added, removed? What would
you change?
Some of the images in the spaces could have been a higher resolution, to make it more
immersive. Maybe something could be added at the beginning to give you a clue about the
theme. I remember the page with the Grandad on, but I didn't know how it related to
everything.
It would have been nice to listen to the poem more than once - I kind of wanted to hear it
again to try to take in what it was saying. An option to repeat it would have been good.
5. How does this experience make you feel?
it made me feel quite calm and also curious to figure out what it was all about.

Iterations I have made after testing with Laura

Laura could not remember being inside an hourglass, therefore I have adjusted the scale of
this to try and make it more obvious. - done
Being small in the bird cage is good, this is what I aimed for.
No changes to snowy landscape.
I need to see if I can change the export settings for the project and see if I can increase the
resolution without compromising the experience. – I’ve put on higher resolution for now.
Also, the 3D book I have scanned isn’t necessarily relevant to the experience and I either
need to cut this or make it more relevant. – I’ve now gotten rid of the image in the book and
changed its position and scale.

Iterations for Mobile Optimization

  • I have changed the objects that do not move to static lighting and changed some of my lights to baked lighting, leaving a couple set to Realtime.

  • I used the frame debugger tool to check how the experience was operating in terms of draw calls.

Figure 3 - 3D design environment and optimization

I also tested using remote profiling. And this is where I discovered a potentially huge problem: the size of the 3D scanned image I created, in this case the book was huge and my vert count reflected this.​

In order to get my experience running at 60+ Frames per second, I have had to: remove the tilt brush stars; heavily compress my 3D scanned object; remove particles; remove realtime lighting from the bird cage scene and remove parts of the 3D model for my hourglass. I’ve also removed several stars from the main screen and now only have one animating above the book. Then, I have changed the quality settings to low and have removed the bird from the scene. Finally, the scene runs at 60fps

Development Areas

Animation
I was struggling to animate parts of the project and in the end had to leave some of my
planned animation out. This was because I ran out of time to develop this area and have
little prior experience.


Controlling audio/video
I really want to learn how to control audio and video more and give the user more options.
It would have been nice to have had an option to listen to the entire poem.